Lessons from Tanzania -
Last month I had the good fortune of beginning the first few weeks of 2017 in Tanzania for a little adventure and perspective. The trip delivered on both. The country is beautiful yet harsh and raw. Her people are strong, proud, friendly, and graceful. Their stories are simple and yet complicated at the same time.
Simple in that they want what we all want. They want the American dream... to earn a living, raise a family, build a big house, and live happily ever after. That dream is very difficult to come by at least in the places I've seen.
The need to grow is a human instinct. I do not mean just physically, I mean mentally and spiritually as well. As long as there is breath in our bodies, we all feel the need to accomplish more or improve upon something. Some of us even feel the need to chase a dream. That is how we keep evolving. I would like to use my own life as a reference point in this passage.
One day when my youngest brother was about 12 or 13 (and I was about 15) he decided he wanted some cake. Not having money or transportation, or a store anyplace near us he decided to bake one. Actually he decided to bake an angel food cake. My mother had always done a lot of baking, but had gone back to work full time the year before and we were all learning to figure out how to use her heretofore closely guarded kitchen. When I got in from wherever I was he told me about it, and showed me what he had baked.
This pumpkin pie was a treat given to me by one of my Pilates clients after my first lumpectomy last November. And yes, it's not a cancer fighting food. It's a celebratory one. "Once in a while a little treat is ok," said my doctors and nurses when I called them about this little slice of pie. Hey, I didn't want cancer again. So this is a case where I was told, it is okay to have your pie and eat it too.
In 1980 there was an article published in Yoga Journal by Joel Kramer. He talked about the balance between control and surrender and about how in yoga you have pushers and surrenders and that the pushers need to learn to surrender and this surrenderers need to learn to push.
One of the most common fitness class misconceptions that I encounter is the notion that you have to be at a certain level of fitness or have some sort of expert knowledge or experience to join the class. This is so false! Fitness classes are designed to help you get fit, or maintain your level of physical fitness. There is no requirement that you need to possess a certain amount of skill to join a class, or that you have to ‘be good enough’ to take the class.
Sensei Dan used to talk about what the kids in his dojo learned: not just high kicks, and blocks, and so on, but also self control, the ability to stand up to bullies, and self respect. With any physical discipline there are physical end points, but also benefits of understanding, character, and behaviour. The practice I know best is yoga. Not simply a physical practice, it is unsurprising how much one gets from a long term yoga practice. Lately I have seen a lot of articles on 'the benefits of yoga'.